“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.”, stated Zig Ziglar, the renowned motivation speaker. Several religions and spiritual gurus advocate gratitude as the ‘social glue’ that binds people and communities together for greater good.
However, there is more to gratitude than merely being a cultural construct – researchers agree that one’s ability to be grateful is strongly associated with their physical and psychological health, happiness, and overall life satisfaction levels.
Put simply, gratitude refers to taking the time to reflect on and appreciate all positive aspects of your life. While it also includes social niceties like thanking others or random acts of kindness, gratitude entails expressing appreciation towards ourselves as well as other positive developments and experiences around us.
Numerous studies have reinforced the importance of gratitude for our physical and mental well-being, as well as our happiness and overall life satisfaction levels. However, researchers consider gratitude to be a fundamental resource, especially because it can be incorporated with ease in our daily schedule without much fuss in the form of positive affirmations, journaling or meditation.
To begin with, gratitude can help us overcome the ‘hedonic treadmill’, or the human tendency to become desensitized towards positive things that happen to us over time. For example, dreaming about getting a promotion at work, driving a snazzy sports car, owning a sprawling bungalow, etc. must have made you happier than actually attaining these things, since we are conditioned to return to our baseline contentment quickly after a sharp surge in happiness levels.
Practise gratitude affirmations in front of a mirror shutterstock/fizkes
Practising gratitude may help slow down hedonic adaptation, thus enabling us to maximize our happiness for all the noticeable milestones as well as the simplest pleasures in life. Furthermore, gratitude can help us overcome negativity bias, or the human tendency to focus more on the negative outcomes and experiences, allowing us to gradually develop a more optimistic point of view. Gratitude can also regulate our mood, improve health and even boost our productivity levels.
Moreover, being grateful creates a lasting impact on the human brain, as per a study conducted by Joshua Brown et al at University of California. Using an fMRI scanner to measure the brain activity of participants who wrote gratitude letters, researchers noticed that those who practised gratitude were more sensitive towards recognizing acts of gratitude, which may contribute towards improved mental health in the longer run.
While they may seem like products of “wishful thinking” at the outset, gratitude affirmations are positive statements that can create a powerful impact on our mind and outlook. As humans, we tend to subconsciously ingrain negative thought patterns and self-limiting beliefs which hamper our growth and happiness. Positive affirmations are essentially messages to your subconscious, meant to challenge your habitual ways of thinking and behaving.
A review study by DK Sherman et al revealed that positive self-affirmations can considerably broaden an individual’s overall perspective. Additionally, repeating these positive statements over a period of time helps reinforce new neural pathways in a process called cognitive restructuring, which enables the mind to actually rely on these statements in stressful times, making it easier to cope with the duress.
“While they may seem like products of 'wishful thinking' at the outset, affirmations are positive statements that can create a powerful impact on our mind and outlook.”
Indeed, positive affirmations can help us lead more authentic lives by encouraging us to focus on areas which hold greater personal value for us, instead of seeking validation from others. Adding an element of gratitude to these self-affirmations can magnify positive emotions further, enabling us to cherish the present more and invite happiness and abundance freely into our lives.
Gratitude affirmations are aimed at limiting self-sabotaging thoughts through conscious repetition and replacing negative beliefs with constructive statements or resolutions. You can choose to include specific areas in your life, like building confidence, financial freedom, body positivity etc. and design affirmations centered on bringing improvements in these areas.
Here are some examples of gratitude affirmations you can repeat:
Fortunately, gratitude affirmations are simple to define and easy to implement as well. The key to making your affirmations more efficient involves identifying your core values or problem areas that you wish to target. Positive affirmations can help you focus better, find your flow state, help you combat stress and anxiety – the possibilities are endless.
A great way to make your affirmations more effective is to repeat them out loud as you face the mirror, also known as ‘mirror work’. “Looking at yourself in the mirror will make you aware about your intentions and reflect your feelings, strengthening your connection with the affirmations”, advocates Louise Hay, healer and author of bestselling book Mirror Work: 21 Days to Heal Your Life.
“Positive affirmations can help you focus better, find your flow state, help you combat stress and anxiety – the possibilities are endless.”
Maintaining a gratitude journal is another way to strengthen your affirmations, as writing about gratitude can aid improved emotional regulation and better adherence to goal-setting. Start by sparing 15 minutes of your time every day to jot down at least 5 gratitude affirmations in each area you wish to focus on. It is important to set self-doubt and judgment aside while you do this – consider this to be an honest reflection of your feelings for the day.
Gratitude meditation is another reliable medium to supercharge your affirmations. Indeed, research points out that focusing on one’s blessings and positive events in life can improve their well-being. Getting started with gratitude meditation routine is easy. Choose a convenient time (preferably early morning or before bedtime) and dedicate at least 10 minutes of your time to focus on your chosen gratitude affirmations.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion – indeed, developing an attitude of gratitude can revolutionize your overall well-being and happiness levels. It's important to be consistent and patient with whichever practice you’ve chosen to proceed with, as the benefits of gratitude affirmations can take a while to become apparent.
Thankfully, building your ‘gratitude muscle’ is an enjoyable and free process, and the rewards you reap will make it worth the effort. •
Main image: shutterstock/krackenimages.com
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Fitness and healthy food blogger, food photographer and stylist, travel-addict and future self journaler. Sonia loves to write and has resolved to dedicate her life to revealing how easy and important it is to be happier, stronger and fitter each day. Follow her daily pursuits at FitFoodieDiary or on Instagram.
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